I never thought I’d marry an Irishman. I’d never thought I’d move to the countryside. And most improbable of all, I would never have dreamed that I would be reading gardening catalogues in bed on rainy nights. Oh yes, it’s time to talk about our secret obsession that rears its nerdy little head this time of the year – The Diggers Club Garden Annual Seed Sowers Manual. This little baby arrives by mail at the beginning of spring, and is the bible of heirloom gardeners in these fertile parts. But this is no ordinary mail order catalogue. For a start, you have to be a member of The Diggers Club, a gardening group that prides itself on reviving long lost heritage breeds, and owns two beautiful heritage properties which showcase its vegetables, fruit and flower gardens. One of them, Heronswood, being just 15 minutes from our house.
I just love the illustrations and commentary in the catalogue. It is brimful of quirky Australian humour. Take “Granny’s Throwing Tomato” below for instance, which is advertised as “Perfect for throwing at politicians or mining magnates like Gina and Clive. This is Italy’s favourite tomato and is used in salads and pastas and for hurling at old lechers like Silvio Burlusconi. ” Heh.
After circling our family selections in the catalogue ;- Edamame for Mame, Teddy Bear sunflowers, “Bonk Choy” and watermelons for Finn, Zucchini and beetroot for Dylan, heirloom potatoes for Sean and too many things to count from Daddy, we headed down to Heronswood to have lunch at Fork to Fork cafe and peruse the Diggers nursery.
Somehow Finn managed to sneak in 2 Bhut Jolokia Ghost Chilli plants. Which we found out later were actually semi-lethal, being the hottest chilli known to mankind and ranking at more than 1 million Scoville heat units (compared to Thai birds eye chilli which ranks 50,000 units.) In fact it was used by the military in chemical crowd dispersion bombs! It’s called the Ghost Pepper because of its deadly powers. All this was extremely thrilling to Finn, but I’m secretly planning to dig up the ghost chills and replant them outside the chicken coop to deter the foxes.
Our veggie patch #3 is doing very well despite Coco the greyhounds efforts at sunbathing on top of the seedlings. We have acquired a number of derelict items from junk shops to use as planters such as the vintage bath tub cum herb planter below. The zucchini flowers look beautiful and the spinach is extremely prolific.
In fact the Irishman has done such a splendid job I think I may forgive him for The Horrible Flowers he planted around our new driveway. I distinctly recall saying to him “I don’t mind whatever plants you get, but I DON’T LIKE dark reddish brown flowers at all. White, purple, blue or anything is fine darling, JUST NOT DARK RED.” Which he somehow interpreted as “Blah blah blah DON’T LIKE FLOWERS” blah blah EXCEPT DARK RED”…. which resulted in an entire driveway full of hundreds of Dark Reddish Brown Kangeroo’s Paw plants as far as eye can see.
Never mind. There are better things to worry about in Spring, such as our new alpacas, Blackadda and Mandate, the roses which have been decimated by the storms, the vineyard which has developed some strange new worrying affliction, the little swallows which have chose to nest perilously on an unstable ledge over the back door, the scrapping scamps, our busy international work schedule, the influx of Summer visitors… well really there are so many things I really think it is time to reach for a calming tea and that well-thumbed Diggers catalogue!
If you’re thinking of visiting the Mornington Peninsula, this weekend would be perfect. The weather looks to be sunny and the Red Hill Country Fair is on, this Sunday November 17th with plenty of good family things to do. See you there!